My Race is Human…and Asian

My Race is Human…and Asian

Photo Credit: Joshua Hoehne

When you walk down the street, can you tell what nationality I am? Can you tell from the color of my skin that I’m American, besides being Asian? Or even more so, an Asian Jew?

These questions may not enter one’s mind in passing, but don’t we all have preconceived ideas about anyone we see on the street? This week’s shooting resulted in 8 deaths, six of whom were Asian women. A 21-year old white man in Atlanta, GA was the perpetrator. Racial issues have become much more pronounced and how could they not? Almost daily, we hear of shootings and other killings, whether here in the US or abroad. Terrorist-driven or not, the issue of race has been the common denominator for it.

I may not look American (what does it even mean?), but I came to this country as an immigrant and received my citizenship when I was 15 years old. My parents left a dictatorial regime to live in a country where freedom was embraced. Their bravery to escape the ideals they couldn’t accept and leave behind their families gave us the opportunity to dream and exert the freedom that wasn’t readily available to them.

Was it an easy transition? I naively thought it would be. Since I was educated in English, I didn’t think I would be noticed, and for a while I wasn’t. My high school and college years were pretty uneventful. I had friends and was socially active in an environment that was culturally diverse. My friends were Irish, African-American, Italian, Indian, White, and Filipino. While we all came from different races, we never considered ourselves as different; that was one of the reasons I never thought I would be singled out or stereotyped, but two incidents would change how I saw myself and how others saw me.

My first encounter was while I was searching for an apartment after moving out of my parents’ home. As a young adult who had just landed her first real job, I thought it was time to be on my own. Looking for an apartment was far from easy and I was willing to commute. My apartment search took me to New York City but the rent was not affordable for me at the time so I ventured to search in Brooklyn. It was while I was walking around my prospective neighborhood where I encountered my initial brush with racism.

As I was being shown around the neighborhood by my prospective housemate, I noticed two young women coming towards us. Not thinking anything of it, I kept walking on the sidewalk until I was almost face to face with these women, then it happened. As they were about to pass me, the one closest to me pushed me onto the street with oncoming traffic. Had I not caught myself from falling, I might have been hit by a car. I was shocked and taken aback because I had no clue why I was pushed, other than the fact that this young woman didn’t like the way I looked.

The second encounter happened as I was waiting for my husband to come out of a meeting. As I stood there, one of the men who had just come out of the same meeting started a conversation with me by asking what my nationality was. When he found out that I was Filipina, he asked if I was a mail-order bride because he was waiting for his bride to arrive in the US within a few weeks. After the initial shock of being classified as a mail-order bride without knowing who I was, I became angry. I informed him that I had been a New Yorker for most of my life as a US citizen and I was not a mail-order bride. My anger dissipated after a few minutes because I realized that this was just another stereotype that’s been projected via presumption of someone coming from a low income country. It’s an unfair assumption that Filipinas who come to the States are here to get a husband and become a citizen. In addition, the perception of Asian women to be fetishized by men like the murderer in Atlanta is demeaning and misogynistic. 

While it’s true that there are women from the Philippines who come here to make a future for themselves or their family, making that a reality is through education and finding a job, not procuring a husband. Yes, there are women from the Philippines and other countries whose goal is to find a husband in order to provide for their families back home, but that’s not every woman. The women who were murdered in Atlanta were targeted by this man as a result of his own warped perceptions of Asian women. 

Attacks on Asians have never been as visible or prevalent until the pandemic, and these recent attacks have become deadly.  According to a New York Times article this past week, “In December, slurs about Asians and the term “Kung Flu” rose by 65 percent on websites and apps like Telegram, 4chan and The Donald, compared with the monthly average mentions from the previous 11 months on the same platforms, according to the Network Contagion Research Institute. The activity remained high in January and last month.” Pointing the fingers at Asians for the existence of COVID-19 combined with forced locked down for a year has made it convenient for so many to spew hatred on them. Even more disturbing is that according to NBC Asia America,”The research released by reporting forum Stop AAPI Hate on Tuesday revealed nearly 3,800 incidents were reported over the course of roughly a year during the pandemic”, 68% of which were reported by women.

As a woman whose daughter is Filipina and White, I have encountered some other stereotypes that nowadays, just make me shake my head. Questions like “oh are you her Mom?” when at a cash register paying for something or the look from me to her, wondering whether I’m some relative, makes me want to scream, “can’t you just keep your thoughts to yourself?”, but alas, there is always someone who makes unsolicited comments. 

The shooting in Atlanta has made me realize how far we still have to go. Targeting races that are viewed as Other or Non-White is not new, given the history of slavery in this country. There are still inequalities in jobs and pay experienced by those who are not considered “white enough” or are a woman. Not everyone I meet will know my nationality right away, and it shouldn’t matter, but given the violence perpetrated by this past week,  I’m not so sure. 

My daughter has never experienced being stereotyped as a result of her race. I pray she never does, but in these uncertain times, who knows who will be targeted next? For people like my parents and so many others who came here looking for freedom and a chance to have a better life, the events this past week are a reminder that one’s race shouldn’t be the litmus test of who deserves to live in this country. Just like my parents and so many immigrants who defied all odds to come to this country, I will not be defined by my race because I am more than what you first see. I’m a human being…and Asian, shouldn’t that be enough?

Click here to read the article referenced by this post.

This is an original post written by Tes Silverman for World Moms Network

Tes Silverman

Tes Silverman was born in Manila, Philippines and has been a New Yorker for over 30 years. Moving from the Philippines to New York opened the doors to the possibility of a life of writing and travel. Before starting a family, she traveled to Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, and France, all the while writing about the people she met through her adventures. After starting a family, she became a freelance writer for publications such as Newsday’s Parents & Children and various local newspapers. Fifteen years ago, she created her blog, The Pinay Perspective. PinayPerspective.com is designed to provide women of all ages and nationalities the space to discuss the similarities and differences on how we view life and the world around us. As a result of her blog, she has written for BlogHer.com and has been invited to attend and blog about the Social Good Summit and Mom+Social Good. In addition, she is a World Voice Editor for World Moms Network and was Managing Editor for a local grass roots activism group, ATLI(Action Together Long Island). Currently residing in Virginia Beach, VA with her husband, fourteen year-old Morkie and a three year old Lab Mix, she continues to write stories of women and children who make an impact in their communities and provide them a place to vocalize their passions.

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The Evolution of r(E)volutionary Woman Podcast

The Evolution of r(E)volutionary Woman Podcast

So it started as a conversation with my husband in the car.

As far as I can remember, I’ve always been a writer. I’ve written poems, lyrics and, for many years, contributed various articles to different publications. I started my blog, The Pinay Perspective, ten years ago, as a way to connect with other Filipinas and Filipina-Americans after moving from NYC to the suburbs of NY and giving birth to my daughter. I didn’t know what to expect from that venture, but I hoped to find like-minded Moms.

Writing on my blog was not just a way to connect with other women and Moms about motherhood and issues that were important to me; my husband challenged me to write 100 posts in 100 days. If I succeeded, then he would take me out to a fancy dinner…and yes, I did it. I wrote a post about anything that interested me, whether it was about family game night or about girls in Egypt doing Parkour.

The blog led me to attend BlogHer in NY, Social Good Summit, and Moms+Social Good. As a new blogger, I didn’t know anyone, but I put myself out there and met Elizabeth Atalay from World Moms Blog. I wanted to be able to write for an organization that reached out to women from everywhere, and WMB was it. I wasn’t taken in as a contributor right away since they already had so many writers from the US, but I kept blogging away and sending links to Elizabeth about international issues, hoping that one day, they would have the room for me. After sending an article about a group of English women donating menstrual products to Syrian women affected by conflict, that opened the door for me to become a contributor for WMB. 

It would be an ordinary car ride with my husband that would spur me to create something new, to deal with my anxiety and fear about this pandemic. My husband and I are huge podcast listeners, and when the pandemic hit, we couldn’t do too much of anything, so we would go for a drive and listen to podcasts. My favorites were Ghost Family, What’s Her Name podcast, Fresh Air and Lore. Each one was different, but I was struck by how every storyteller had a great way of conveying their message to the listener. It was during one of our car rides when I broached the subject of creating my own podcast. My husband was enthusiastic but then asked what would it be about and what would I call it? 

Initially, I told my husband that I wanted it to be about women. Now I know that there are a great number of podcasts about women, as well as those hosted by women, but I wanted it to be about women who are doing amazing work in their community. I’ve been a journalist for years, and while I love the way Terry Gross of Fresh Air does her interviews, I didn’t want my podcast to be an interview. I wanted to create space for conversation, to highlight women who were evolving with the times and doing revolutionary work in their community, despite controversy or lack of acknowledgment. After a few minutes, I came up with r(E)volutionary Woman. What is the significance of the “E” in parenthesis? It’s to signify that women have been evolving since the beginning of time and continue to do so, as well as revolutionizing the works they do for their community. Thus was born https://revwoman.com 

As of this moment, I have published twelve episodes of women from different parts of the world and from different time zones. At last count, I have guests that will take me into the summer. We talk about their lives, their passions, their works, and their families. While we may not all have the same communities, language, and passions, we are connected as women. This podcast has given me a way to connect with women on a personal level, which I hadn’t done before. You can say that the pandemic gave me the opportunity to see how else I can connect with other women while the world was going through unimaginable loss and sadness. For me, this new venture has made it possible for me to explore a deeper way to connect with humanity. At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want?

My advice for someone who would like to create their own podcast or anything creative? Remember that you can’t do it by yourself. Your dreams become a reality with the connection and support of those who believe in you. The connections you make are as much a part of your creative journey as you are. 

To hear the stories of the amazing women Tes has spoken with check out r(E)evolutionary Woman. You will be inspired!

This is an original post written for World Moms Network

Tes Silverman

Tes Silverman was born in Manila, Philippines and has been a New Yorker for over 30 years. Moving from the Philippines to New York opened the doors to the possibility of a life of writing and travel. Before starting a family, she traveled to Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, and France, all the while writing about the people she met through her adventures. After starting a family, she became a freelance writer for publications such as Newsday’s Parents & Children and various local newspapers. Fifteen years ago, she created her blog, The Pinay Perspective. PinayPerspective.com is designed to provide women of all ages and nationalities the space to discuss the similarities and differences on how we view life and the world around us. As a result of her blog, she has written for BlogHer.com and has been invited to attend and blog about the Social Good Summit and Mom+Social Good. In addition, she is a World Voice Editor for World Moms Network and was Managing Editor for a local grass roots activism group, ATLI(Action Together Long Island). Currently residing in Virginia Beach, VA with her husband, fourteen year-old Morkie and a three year old Lab Mix, she continues to write stories of women and children who make an impact in their communities and provide them a place to vocalize their passions.

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Increase of Domestic Violence Globally during COVID-19

Increase of Domestic Violence Globally during COVID-19

While countries around the world are dealing with different stages of lockdowns and reopenings, the state of women’s safety has been put off to the side.

The focus on COVID-19 has been ever-present and with good reason. The number of cases continue to rise around the world and at the same time, there’s also a rise in domestic violence cases. China, Spain and Italy are just some of the countries seeing increased cases of “intimate terrorism” due to lockdowns.

Lele, from China, has suffered multiple abuses from her husband including one such incident where he beat her with their child’s high chair. The beating was so severe that two of the metal legs snapped off and left her with bruises all over her legs. She called the police and the abuse was documented, but no further action was taken. She then tried to get a divorce but the lockdown during the pandemic made it more difficult to get the paperwork done, so she was forced to remain in the same home as her abuser. Lele’s story of being abandoned by a system that she thought she could rely on is not uncommon. According to Feng Yuan, a co-founder of a Chinese advocacy group called Equality, another woman in China who called an emergency line for help was told by the operator that the police were too outstretched to help her but added, ”We can come to your place after the crisis”. 

In Spain, a woman named Ana has also been continuously physically abused by her partner, extending to surveillance of her every move. Surveillance has become extreme for Ana as it has resulted in breaking down the bathroom door, eliminating any semblance of privacy. In spite of the case being reported, not much has been done. Her constant fear of being victimized has gone unnoticed, leading to more violence. 

Domestic violence or “intimate terrorism”, a term used by experts, has only increased with the continued lockdown due to the pandemic. When Italy shut down in March as a result of the Coronavirus, the number of domestic abuse cases on women increased by 30%, according to a study done by UN Women. Shelters were unavailable due to fear of being exposed to the virus. It would take another month before the Italian government would requisition some hotels to become temporary housing for women who had to escape their abusers.

Prior to the pandemic, resources such as restraining orders and complaints to emergency lines were used by victims of domestic violence, but has since decreased or completely disappeared due to fear of retaliation by their abusers. What makes it more challenging is that since the outbreak of COVID-19, women haven’t been able to reach out to agencies that can help them due to imposed restrictions of movement. According to Maria Angeles Carmona, president of the government agency dealing with domestic violence in Spain, the number of women who contacted support services via email or social media had increased by 700% during the first two weeks in April. Since then, the numbers sharply decreased partly as a result of the imposed lockdown, but more so due to lack of a support system which increased their isolation. Per Carmona, “Around 30% of  police complaints are about breaking restraining orders, but under the lockdown no one is allowed to leave their home”. 

It’s not just the delayed actions of government agencies that are affecting women’s safety, but the lack of adequate services that could help women escape from their abusers, giving them a way to start over. One organization in Spain that is helping women to break free of their abusers is Fundacion Ana Bella, founded by Ana Bella, a domestic abuse survivor. One of the ways her organization supports women in abusive relationships is through her Amiga Program which offers peer to peer support. Women who have escaped and reconstructed their lives from abuse connect with women who are struggling to get away from their situation. The program advocates  “breaking away”  rather than remaining with their abuser. By doing so, Ana believes that the stronger women become, the easier it is for them to move on and build a life away from their abusers. 

In addition to services that need to be increased, the dissemination of these services has to be monitored and adjusted to the needs of these women whose lives have been upended as a result of the pandemic. The women affected by these atrocious acts of violence and inadequate support by their government creates a perfect storm of chaos that abusers use to control their victims.

While I have not been subject to physical abuse, I have been a victim of mental and emotional abuse by an old boyfriend. This man grew up in a violent household, but I would not discover how he dealt with his emotions until I saw it for myself one day. We were visiting his parents’ home and sometime during the visit, his father said something that set my boyfriend off and resulted in him shouting violent threats towards his father. Seeing this made me afraid of him, but I shrugged it off, thinking it was just his frustration towards his father, but it wasn’t. Since that violent outburst, I started seeing signs of passive-aggressive behaviors toward me, making me think that I was doing something wrong. It would take another year of being manipulated by him to make me realize that he was a destructive person and that I had to leave him.

My abuse was not violent, but the constant emotional and mental manipulation was hard to shake off. I constantly questioned myself and thought that his pleas of staying with him was because he cared about me, but that was how he controlled me. How did I get out of that relationship? It would take me finding out that he was married while he was with me that gave me the strength to leave him. My family never knew that he was married and I never told them because of the shame I felt for not knowing until I realized I needed to leave him. 

Unlike so many women who are currently going through an abusive relationship, I was able to leave my abuser, but so many are not as lucky. The support system they need to get out of the situation is far from adequate and that has to be resolved, especially during the pandemic. The longer it takes for government agencies to create lasting solutions, such as legal and psychological aid, more women will be abused or killed by their partners. Here’s hoping that government agencies in charge of implementing policies to keep women safe in countries that are most at risk do so before more women lose their lives unnecessarily.

This is an original post written by Tes Silverman for World Moms Network. https://revwoman.com

Tes Silverman

Tes Silverman was born in Manila, Philippines and has been a New Yorker for over 30 years. Moving from the Philippines to New York opened the doors to the possibility of a life of writing and travel. Before starting a family, she traveled to Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, and France, all the while writing about the people she met through her adventures. After starting a family, she became a freelance writer for publications such as Newsday’s Parents & Children and various local newspapers. Fifteen years ago, she created her blog, The Pinay Perspective. PinayPerspective.com is designed to provide women of all ages and nationalities the space to discuss the similarities and differences on how we view life and the world around us. As a result of her blog, she has written for BlogHer.com and has been invited to attend and blog about the Social Good Summit and Mom+Social Good. In addition, she is a World Voice Editor for World Moms Network and was Managing Editor for a local grass roots activism group, ATLI(Action Together Long Island). Currently residing in Virginia Beach, VA with her husband, fourteen year-old Morkie and a three year old Lab Mix, she continues to write stories of women and children who make an impact in their communities and provide them a place to vocalize their passions.

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World Voice: Malaysian Women Balancing Business Appearance and Homelife

World Voice: Malaysian Women Balancing Business Appearance and Homelife

How would you react if someone said you needed to “look” better for work? Would you acquiesce or question it?

Photo Credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/n7Cq2rdd73E

Most of the world is under different stages of working from home due to coronavirus. While Asian countries like China, Indonesia and South Korea are undergoing different phases of reopening after months of lockdown, Malaysia’s work from home “suggestions” from their government during COVID-19 has sparked some controversy.

Back in March, Malaysia was placed under a Movement Control Order (MCO), as a way to control coronavirus. Since people who could work were able to do so from home, the Ministry for Women, Family, and Community Development posted some posters on Facebook and Instagram with “suggestions” for women to make themselves presentable by wearing makeup when working from home. In addition, they were asked not to “nag” their husbands about housework or childcare since they would be coming home tired from working to provide for their family.

For most women, the idea to entertain this idea of putting on makeup and not “nag” their husbands about household chores is ludicrous. It is another way of undermining the status of women in the business world as well as in their home. Isn’t it bad enough that men and women have to go through this pandemic without having to cater to the “suggestions” of the government?

How are these ideas helpful? If anything, these suggestions are offensive and stereotyping the role of women. What’s worse is that the person in charge of the Ministry for Women, Family and Community Development, Rina Harun, didn’t think this would be an issue. While the suggestions have since been retracted, it still created negative feedback. 

Women activism groups took the government’s handling of this to task. They demanded that the posters be taken down or modified. Harun maintained that the posters were aimed at giving positive pointers during the pandemic, but were they? To me, these posters added to the stress of navigating through these unprecedented events and may have even affected their home life negatively.

Was the Ministry for Women, Family and Community Development well-intentioned by creating these posters? They may have thought so, but in my opinion, it backfired. While I don’t claim to know how foreign governments are run, the way the Malaysian government has been treating women during this time is discriminatory and uncalled for. I don’t think that women alone should have to shoulder the responsibilities of working as well as maintaining the home if they have partners. In my opinion, the ideas put forth by the Malaysian ministry stem from patriarchal ideals, and that’s what needs to be addressed if both men and women are to live in close quarters during this pandemic. 

To read the original article:

https://www.npr.org/2020/04/01/825051317/dont-nag-your-husband-during-lock-down-malaysias-government-advises-women

Tes Silverman

Tes Silverman was born in Manila, Philippines and has been a New Yorker for over 30 years. Moving from the Philippines to New York opened the doors to the possibility of a life of writing and travel. Before starting a family, she traveled to Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, and France, all the while writing about the people she met through her adventures. After starting a family, she became a freelance writer for publications such as Newsday’s Parents & Children and various local newspapers. Fifteen years ago, she created her blog, The Pinay Perspective. PinayPerspective.com is designed to provide women of all ages and nationalities the space to discuss the similarities and differences on how we view life and the world around us. As a result of her blog, she has written for BlogHer.com and has been invited to attend and blog about the Social Good Summit and Mom+Social Good. In addition, she is a World Voice Editor for World Moms Network and was Managing Editor for a local grass roots activism group, ATLI(Action Together Long Island). Currently residing in Virginia Beach, VA with her husband, fourteen year-old Morkie and a three year old Lab Mix, she continues to write stories of women and children who make an impact in their communities and provide them a place to vocalize their passions.

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World Voice: Gender Inequality Amidst #Coronavirus

World Voice: Gender Inequality Amidst #Coronavirus

As we all try to wade through the chaos brought on by Coronavirus, it has also given way to other sentiments that are less than desirable: gender inequality.

Women working in rice fields in Asia.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in China, there has been a large number of women who have been affected the most by it. Women who have jobs have had to cut back or leave their jobs in order to care for their children as a result of school closures. Service jobs that are held by women have had to endure work with less pay or no pay at all if they leave their job. The fallout from this outbreak not only affects women but their families.

Women from China, South Korea, and Japan have had to choose between working in spite of the outbreak or not working which takes away their pay and benefits. Recent statistics reported from an employment-oriented platform Zhipin, states that on average, women earn 84% less than men. That statistic takes into account the differences in industry, years of experience, and occupation. Since levels of education are used as benchmarks to garner one’s earnings, the pay gap is even less if women had earned a Ph.D. or Masters’s degree. The flip side of earning a decent living is not having the time to care for their children if the job requires long hours. While their contribution to the workforce is valuable in principle, the reality is far from it.

The age-old ideal of patriarchy is still alive and well in so many countries, but to see how it still controls women and their daily lives during this time is unbelievable. These women are willing to provide for their families but at what cost? It is unlikely that whether they keep working or not would make a difference since there are cultures who still see and treat women as burdens, not worthy of being cared for by their society.

What is just as unfathomable is that even if these women had jobs, they are still expected to take care of the children without help. It’s the notion that men bring home the paycheck and even if women did make money, it wasn’t seen as substantial enough to provide for their family. It’s not fair, but women who rely on a paycheck may back down from being assertive at their job, to ensure that they don’t get laid off or fired.

In this time of uncertainty, gender inequality should not be an added stressor or have such importance when it comes to providing for one’s family, but unfortunately, it is. 

I’m not saying that every Asian culture discriminates against women, but there are people in these cultures who don’t value women or their contributions to their society. How are these women being protected by their country during a pandemic if their society doesn’t support their needs? How can women feel empowered if their culture still considers them as second class citizens? 

Gender inequality is also present in the United States, not just in some Asian countries. While the treatment of women in the States is not as brutal as parts of Asia, it is just as palpable. Women in the States make less than men because they are perceived to be less committed to their jobs, especially if women have children. According to PayScale.com, in 2020 women earn 81 cents for every $1 earned by men. Men have been seen as being more productive than women due to their physical makeup or the perceived lack of commitment when it concerns childcare. In reality, women have been able to do the same jobs men can do in almost every occupation, regardless of their domestic situation.

They are faced with these notions even during a pandemic and it’s not going away anytime soon. So long as companies or society see women as less productive than men, women will have to keep fighting for their rights and risk their health until perceptions are changed. I do hope that it doesn’t take another natural disaster for women to be taken seriously or given the right to take care of their family without being penalized by society. 

To read the articles regarding this post, click below:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-51705199
https://www.ft.com/content/6fdaa854-5798-11ea-abe5-8e03987b7b20

Tes Silverman

Tes Silverman was born in Manila, Philippines and has been a New Yorker for over 30 years. Moving from the Philippines to New York opened the doors to the possibility of a life of writing and travel. Before starting a family, she traveled to Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, and France, all the while writing about the people she met through her adventures. After starting a family, she became a freelance writer for publications such as Newsday’s Parents & Children and various local newspapers. Fifteen years ago, she created her blog, The Pinay Perspective. PinayPerspective.com is designed to provide women of all ages and nationalities the space to discuss the similarities and differences on how we view life and the world around us. As a result of her blog, she has written for BlogHer.com and has been invited to attend and blog about the Social Good Summit and Mom+Social Good. In addition, she is a World Voice Editor for World Moms Network and was Managing Editor for a local grass roots activism group, ATLI(Action Together Long Island). Currently residing in Virginia Beach, VA with her husband, fourteen year-old Morkie and a three year old Lab Mix, she continues to write stories of women and children who make an impact in their communities and provide them a place to vocalize their passions.

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